Monday, February 2, 2015

US Budget Request Will Change Drastically, Experts Say

US Budget Request Will Change Drastically, Experts Say: The $585 billion fiscal year 2016 defense budget request — so painstakingly sculpted by White House and Pentagon before being sent to Capitol Hill this week — will likely die a long, complicated death as it winds its way through the congressional committees, analysts say.

"I don't think it's likely DoD gets anything close to what they're planning right now," Todd Harrison with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), told reporters on Jan. 30.

The reason is that the request blows right past the $499 billion spending cap that Congress imposed in the 2011 Budget Control Act for the coming fiscal year, and one dollar over that cap would automatically kick in sequestration, which cuts and burns all programs across the board to meet the cap number.

DoD "is still using the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance as its basic strategy framework," added Kathleen Hicks, director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), on Jan 29.

"It updated that in the 2014 [Quadrennial Defense Review], but it's essentially the same strategy ... and that strategy was built $100 billion ago. Sequestration's effects are not yet fully felt, but the strategy most certainly can't be executed at those budget numbers. So there is a mismatch underway. And the White House's approach to that appears to be putting the budget above sequestration."

The request — which includes $534 billion in base budget funding along with a $51 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO) — is the latest attempt by the White House to spur Congress to move the markers on the Budget Control Act numbers.